LAKEWOOD – Superintendent Michael Mack was beaming as community members praised the school district for the new Lakewood High, which was on display at an Open House Saturday.
He told the story of one local resident who actually voted twice against the bonds to build the school.
“I was wrong,” the man told him.
The Marysville Globe-The Arlington Times interrupted Mock’s bubble and asked him to reflect. Looking at the big picture, what were lessons learned in passing the bonds that Marysville and Arlington could use as they attempt to do the same thing. Arlington schools recently lost a bond election and Marysville did a few years back.
Mack said communication needs to be ongoing. Districts can’t just all of a sudden say there is this huge problem, and we have to have bond money to fix it.
“It’s hard work,” Mack said. “You have to build trust and develop a relationship.”
He said districts need to engage in difficult conversations and be respectful to people who may be against the idea. “Make sure they have the correct information. They don’t want to be buffalo’ed,” he said.
Mack recalled that Lakewood’s measure failed by a few votes the first time, but it came back two months later, and it passed by a few votes.
He said the district shook a lot of hands between the votes and talked to people who didn’t go to the polls. “You put your money where your values are,” he said, adding 40 years ago the community built a high school and 40 years from now they will need to build another one.
Compared to the old school, there are about 90,000 more square feet, and it can hold about 100 more students. The $66.8 million bonds passed in April of 2014 only cost taxpayers 51 cents more per $1,000 valuation. So, on a $350,000 home, the tax is only $14.92 a month more than it had been.
Devin Payne of Lakewood was one of the hundreds of people to attend the Open House. She has a 9- and 7-year-old, and said one of the reasons they moved there was it’s a good school district.
She called the new school “beautiful” and “well-planned out” with big open rooms and glass to let in light. She also likes the quiet areas for reflection.
Payne said she is so happy the community decided to invest in the school.
Prior to the vote she recalled thinking, “I hope people don’t try to save a penny in taxes at the cost of my children.”
During the actually ceremony in the gym, former school board president Larry Bean told how the district had been looking at a remodel of the old high school for about 10 years. It was only after the bonds passed, and they found out a new school would cost about the same that they made that decision.
Board president Jahna Smith then recommended that everyone check out the stunning view of the Cascade mountain range from the second-floor library.
Others talked about the natural light in the school from skylights, and the vintage feel of the old school with the benches and under stairways.
And ASB president Taylor Stich talked about how he has grown as a student at LHS.
To conclude, Mack said, “There are so many things about this building that are cutting edge – like the security system. This is your building. Your community.”
The district then showed its appreciation to the community by passing out 250 little pairs of scissors. They then gathered around the gym where a red ribbon had been placed in a large square. The town then cut the ribbon and was able to take some home as a memento.
After the ceremony, Principal Mike Curl said problems have dropped tremendously at the new school this year. “Fights are down. They’re keeping it clean. They are proud of the school,” he said of students.